Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, on this day of family and feasting, with all the craziness of the past few years and the promise of even more to come... I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the people who have helped us learn to care for our goats and everyone who has bought goats from us. It is so easy to lose sight, as we hustle and bustle, struggle through the tough times and rejoice in the wonderful ones, of all we have for which to be thankful. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work on land that has seen our family through hundreds of Thanksgivings. My husband and I are blessed to have two wonderful, healthy, vibrant (sometimes a bit too vibrant) children to share it all with. Wishing a wonderful Thanksgiving to all of you...

MJ, Chuck, Annalee, and Chip...

Enjoy your feast!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cream of the Crop

We made the trek to Corydon, IN again this year, but this time Grandma watched the kids (but drew the line at the puppy, so she had to come with us) so I could accompany Chuck and enjoy the sale. I had wanted to add a few does with Terminator blood to the mix, and had a few circled in the sale catalog. I was less interested in the 100% NZ tag than just getting some substantial does, and this sale did seem heavy on the Purebreds, so that all worked out for me. We had originally planned to leave town Thursday so we could attend the Friday seminars, but my daughter's school had their Fall Sing Friday morning, and that was a "must attend" event. I have a whole new respect for their music teacher - to see a large group of costumed JrK and Kindergarten kids pull off a well orchestrated recital complete with props and hand movements to all of the songs - well, let's just say it made me wonder if some kind of mass hypnosis was involved.
After the Sing, we hit the road and arrived in Corydon late Friday night... or maybe it was early Saturday morning. We arrived at the Fairgrounds Saturday morning and thankfully by the time Dr. Browning from TSU spoke, the metal barn had had enough time in the sun to become tolerable. My husband may have been wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt (he is part polar bear) but everyone else was well bundled. The air was crisp, and the small town setting and fall leaves gave it a hometown fair sort of feel. A few of the goats shivered in the morning chill, but most were already putting on hair for the winter. This made checking udder structure a bit of a challenge while standing outside the pen, but our vantage point at ring side once the sale started made things a little more apparent.

Both Chuck and I really enjoyed Dr. Browning's talk on the research they've been doing over the past several years at TSU. He had seen it before, and I had seen some of the slides online, but it was much better "live" and with him answering questions from the audience. Once attendee had asked about how Boers are generally given a higher grade by slaughter buyers, but Dr. Browning was able to demonstrate how with the higher kidding and weaning weights and rates of the Kikos and Kiko crosses, they were still the better alternative from a dollars and cents standpoint. We are noticing a change in attitude towards Kikos around here, which is great from our standpoint. It is also great that producers are trying to get goats that need to be chemically dewormed less frequently. That means fewer worms that are resistant to all current classes of dewormers.

In the sale itself, we saw a group of good solid does and good young bucks offered. I didn't see a really bad udder in the bunch, and most of the does had really good udder structure, good deep bodies, and seemed very hardy. We bought a couple of does we had not planned on, and then let some of my original picks go to other farms since I had basically gotten the bloodlines I had wanted to get and spent all I wanted to spend. As usual, now I wish I had kept up the bidding on just a couple more of those does... but now I am at the numbers I want for the winter with the bred does, so it is best that is all we got.

The only really crazy thing I did was buy a doe because of how she looked at me. One light colored doe with speckled ears stared at me as I was walking through the sale barn - and I mean stared. She just sat there and looked me right in the eye for what seemed like several minutes. Now, with my luck, that probably means she has some brain issue but when she was going through the ring and the bidding was low, I thought, "what the heck." So now we have a speckled eared doe who likes to stare. To her credit, she herself had an ADG as a kid of .37 and is ultrasounded pregnant with twins to a young buck with an ADG of something like .6 or something like that. We had been looking at a 2010 PB half sister of the buck to whom she is bred, but she sold for $800. So, we'll see what we get. I believe I was haunted a bit by the memory of the AKGA sale and how a "famous" old doe had looked up at me. I mentioned to Chuck I thought she had a look in her eyes like she was kinda soul tired, for lack of a better way to describe it. We tried to buy her, but my pockets were not deep enough, and I was told by her owner that after a successful embryo flush, she had gone off feed with an infection and had gone to happy goat land. Even though we are raising animals for consumption, it still made me a bit sad and wistful, since I had wanted to only breed her naturally and let her sit around and eat bon bons. I have a bit of a soft spot for older mamas. I wonder why.

Here is a picture of the does we purchased as they rounded the corner towards the loading pen. We bought three bred does, and two 2010 doelings. As I had planned, I have stacked the deck with Terminator bloodlines in my quest for some tough goats. I have that bloodlines in both the Wild Bill goats and also a Turbo doe bred to Cherokee Fiddler. Fiddler is closely related to a doe we bought last year who is bred this year for the first time. This doe's younger sister brought $2500 at the sale bred to Fiddler.

The drive home was a long one, and we ended up taking several naps at rest stops. I don't know if it is better for the goats to just get on to their destination, or if periodic stops allow them more time to rest. They ate a good bit of the grass hay we had in there on the way home, so they didn't let the trip bother them too much. Here are a few pictures of them on the farm to which we will be moving the rest of the bred does as soon as then fence is done. We made a quarantine area of goat panels we can move around out in the weeds. Since they are due between January and March, we may just keep them in a pen like this until they kid out.

As is always the case, we got to see a bunch of goat folks that are becoming friends. This is a good community of people from diverse backgrounds but with a common interest. I see a lot of collaboration, and a lot of people who are willing to share their hard earned knowledge with anyone, just for the asking. I think that spirit of "we are all in this together" will go a long way in keeping the Kiko industry growing in the future.

Now I will start working on my next post with some pictures of our bred does... but a sick young'un takes precedence. I hope we can take the kids with us to Corydon next year. They had a great Halloween festival and since our kids' hopes to go door to door trick or treating were turned topsy turvy by the Saturday vs Sunday thing and one being too sick to really go, we owe them a big Halloween next year.